Socialist International Presidium calls on all parties to end violence in the Middle East and to resume the path to negotiations

15 July 2006

The Presidium of the Socialist International - the leadership body of the organisation made up of the President, Vice-Presidents and Secretary General - met in Samos, Greece, on 15 July. Chaired by SI President George Papandreou, the meeting paid special attention to the latest grave developments affecting the Middle East region. The International, with its more than 160 member parties and organisations from around the world, including parties in that region, in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, among others, has been at the centre of many initiatives for peace in the Middle East. In its examination of the current situation, the Presidium strongly called for an urgent cessation of all violence in the region, and the resumption without delay of the path to negotiations based on the only way forward - the existence of two states, Israel and Palestine, side by side, in security and with recognised borders.

In particular, the Presidium called for the immediate release of all those held captive, an end to the cycle of violence which the world is witnessing, with indiscriminate attacks on the civilian populations of Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. The Presidium, while affirming its solidarity with all the victims of the conflict, manifested its grave concern at the continuing Israeli incursions into Gaza and the developing humanitarian crisis there. It appealed for reason and for all sides to abide by and respect international law, the decisions of the United Nations Security Council and the expressed will of the international community for an end to confrontation and violent action. The existence of armed political actors in states that are consolidating their democracy, the use of weapons by irregular armies or groups and hostage-taking are not acceptable. Equally unacceptable are the targeting and destruction of vital infrastructure with the consequent loss of life, as seen in Lebanon and Gaza. With those courses of action there are no winners. Unilateralism in the Middle East leads only to further pain and suffering. For all concerned, responsible, bold and courageous leadership is required today to put into motion policies to end this longstanding conflict.

The Presidium meeting addressed the developing situation in Lebanon, also in contact with Walid Jumblatt, Leader of the SI-member Progressive Socialist Party, PSP, in that country where irregular extremists, not the Lebanese government, are responsible for the attacks against Israel. In addition, in their discussions on the Middle East, members of the Presidium met with representatives of the International Women’s Commission For a Just and Sustainable Peace established by Israeli and Palestinian Women.

As part of its efforts to contribute towards the diplomatic solution to the unresolved issue of the use of nuclear technology in Iran, and following the recent visit to Tehran of the SI President and Secretary General, the Socialist International Presidium in Samos held discussions with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, listened to his views and conveyed to him the concerns and opinions of the social democratic movement on this issue.

The Presidium of the Socialist International agreed to continue to be engaged in contributing towards solutions to the conflicts in the Middle East, and to that effect remain in close contact with SI members in the region, with the United Nations, the European Union and the League of Arab States with whose Secretary General, Amre Moussa, members of the Presidium had a discussion on Sunday 16 July.

In other matters on the agenda of the Presidium, the SI’s activities in the first part of this year were reported on and those projected for the second half of 2006 were discussed and agreed. In regard to other initiatives to be undertaken, a Commission for a Sustainable World Society addressing key political, social, environmental and energy issues will be established at the next Council meeting.